There is nothing like watching the fluorescent glare of an H&M sign on the other side of a shopping mall to complete any fine dining experience. Although The Range’s curved glass window that spans across the length of the restaurant is impressive from the outside, the openness of the glass combined with the restaurant’s gargantuan size sacrifices any intimacy for the diners inside.
The interior of Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s latest project, The Range, is reminiscent of a discombobulated Ikea catalogue, mixing wood paneling with stainless steel light fixtures, marble accents, and beige lounge chairs. Given the fact that the restaurant easily seats 200 customers, this mix of materials gives The Range the feel of an upscale cafeteria.
Perhaps the most unsettling component of the restaurant’s aesthetic is the butcher’s smocks worn by all the waiters, which seem like they were stolen from the set of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These accessories bring to mind dozens of Leatherface clones walking around serving food and may make you think twice about going to the restroom without a buddy.
What The Range lacks in atmosphere, it more than makes up for with the quality of its food. The menu is short and organized by preparation method. Each category contains no more than five options, and each offering contains no more than four ingredients. This simplicity, perfectly executed, translates into delicious, honest food.
The Caesar salad is a modern revamp of the American classic. Keeping with the times, kale replaces the traditional choice of romaine lettuce as the salad’s base. The dressing is on the creamy side, but does not overwhelm the tanginess of the mustard and lemon, complimenting the finely chopped sourdough croutons well.
Peculiarly, the menu offers a range of artisan breads as starters, but unless you enjoy paying money for something you could get at any restaurant in America free, don’t spend the extra money on bread.
Several dishes stand out among the main course options. The margherita pizza, made with fresh buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes, rivals 2 Amys in quality and, after two months of exclusively eating Domino’s Pizza, was a much-needed reminder of how pizza is meant to taste.
The Range’s emphasis on properly preparing fresh meat also pays off handsomely with their New York Strip Steak. Served on a bed of gravy and grits, carnivores will find religion with every bite of this steak. For more adventurous eaters, the burger, with pepperoni slices mixed into the ground beef and topped with a fried egg, is another option that emphasizes the value of simplicity.
The dessert menu is expansive enough to satisfy any palate and complement any meal. The lemon yuzu custard, served with cherry sorbet and passion fruit is teaming with punchy flavors, perfect for anyone whose Warheads nostalgia hasn’t faded. The apple crumble with walnut strudel, a tamer classic, also provides satisfying epilogue to a compelling American culinary classic.
Voltaggio’s latest project offers a wide range of definitive American dishes, executed with simplicity and high quality ingredients, proving to be a refreshing counterpoint to the restaurant’s chaotic decor. Voltaggio demonstrates that the key to stand-out food lies in the quality of ingredients and in preparation, not in embellishment and flare.
5335 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Sun.-Thurs. 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.- 11 p.m.